Eur. J. Entomol. 113: 70-75, 2016 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2016.008

Does one size suit all? Dung pad size and ball production by Scarabaeus sacer (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae)

Gregory T. SULLIVAN1, Sebahat K. OZMAN-SULLIVAN2, Jean-Pierre LUMARET3, Myron P. ZALUCKI4, Greg BAXTER1
1 The University of Queensland, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, 4072 Brisbane, Australia; e-mails: gregory.sullivan@uq.net.au, gbaxter@uqg.uq.edu.au
2 Ondokuz Mayis University, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Plant Protection, 55139 Samsun, Turkey; e-mail: sozman@omu.edu.tr
3 CEFE UMR 5175, CNRS - Université de Montpellier, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 - EPHE, Laboratoire Zoogéographie, route de Mende, 34199 Montpellier cedex 5, France; e-mail: jean-pierre.lumaret@univ-montp3.fr
4 The University of Queensland, School of Biological Sciences, 4072 Brisbane, Australia; e-mail: m.zalucki@uq.edu.au

Large, ball rolling dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) are competitively dominant and can strongly influence community succession in dung pads. Ball production by Scarabaeus sacer Linnaeus was recorded in the Kizilirmak Delta on the Black Sea coast of Turkey by using artificial dung pads from 125 g to 2,000 g. Utilisation of pads across the 16-fold range of pad sizes demonstrated behavioural variation that may reduce intraspecies competition. Ball production was highly concentrated, with 66 balls (61%) produced from 8 pads of the 3 largest pad sizes, which may be related to chemical attraction between males and females. Ball size increased with increasing pad size (P < 0.05) but the number of balls produced per 100 g of dung decreased with increasing pad size (P < 0.01). Pad size for maximum ball production and ball size were 1,371 g and 1,260 g, respectively. The highest and lowest percentage of dung used for ball production was 43% of 125 g pads and 13% of 2,000 g pads, respectively. Ball production and time of day were significantly related (P < 0.01); S. sacer was almost exclusively nocturnal, with 59% of all balls produced between 21.00 and 22.00. This optimum period for ball production early in the night may be a compromise between reduced risk of predation and the increased energy costs of ball production as the temperature falls.

Keywords: Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae, Scarabaeus sacer, ball roller, diel cycle, dung pad, intraspecies competition, nocturnal, seasonal, telecoprid

Received: March 10, 2015; Accepted: November 9, 2015; Published online: January 11, 2016

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